Beach and Boating Safety Reminders at National Lakeshore
May 24, 2013
Mike Bremer, 219-395-1644
INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: With the warming weather, many people begin to return to the shores and waters of Lake Michigan to enjoy a variety of recreational opportunities. While engaging in summer activities please remember that conditions on Lake Michigan can quickly change from calm and inviting to rough and dangerous with little or no warning. The National Park Service would like everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time.
Beachgoers should remember that north winds create dangerous conditions. Steep, uneven waves have quickly overcome even the most experienced swimmers. People are easily knocked off of sandbars into deeper water. High waves are the number one cause of drowning in the park. Breaking waves and whitecaps on the lake are an indication that it is too dangerous to swim. Wave conditions of over three feet are the leading cause of drowning along the beach. Do not become a statistic, when the waves are crashing on the beach, stay on the beach.
Each summer, many children become lost on the beach. Small children can easily succumb to the dangers of the lake, even on calm days. Parents should keep children within arm's length at all times. The use of U. S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation devices is always a good idea.
This summer, National Park Service Rangers will be patrolling Lake Michigan, watching for unsafe and unlawful boating. Operating a boat in an unsafe manner or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts everyone on the lake in danger. Persons operating a boat under the influence are subject to arrest, fines and jail time.
All boaters are responsible for being familiar with all applicable regulations and safe boating practices. A good place to start is by visiting www.in.gov/dnr for information on state boating regulations and safety advice. Always leave a float plan with someone on land that can follow up if you do not return in time. Ensure you have enough floatation devices on board. Check with the U.S. Coast Guard at www.uscgboating.org if you have questions about ensuring your vessel is safe. The public is advised to read and understand buoys and markers deployed in the lake.
The National Park Service has regulations pertaining to safe boating within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The boundary of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore extends 300 feet into Lake Michigan and includes the areas in front of the towns of Beverly Shores, Porter, Dune Acres and Ogden Dunes. Powerboats may not be launched from the beach, but they may stop and anchor outside of buoyed areas. Hand powered boats (kayaks and canoes) may be launched and recovered from any beach except the swim area at West Beach. Boats and other items left after dark are subject to removal. While personal watercraft (jet skis, waverunners, etc.) are legal to operate on Lake Michigan, their operation within the national lakeshore is a violation of federal law. For more information about park regulations and maps of the national lakeshore, please visit http://www.nps.gov/indu/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 401 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore includes 15 miles of the southern shoreline of Lake Michigan and 15,000 acres of beach, woods, marshes, and prairie in the northwest corner of Indiana. More than 2 million visitors come to this national park each year. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/INDU.